… can get a bit complicated. Therefore, it is best to give it an assigned time slot, as in the title to this movie (“just running a little late at the office, dear”). Purportedly, this time slot is a reference in the French culture for the period in which married people see their paramours.
Superficially at least, this movie pressed some hot buttons. Watching the quickening palpitations of the heart as two human beings circle in that wonderful ancient ritual sure beats watching a Presidential debate. There is the Franco-American link with the setting being the real but also manufactured culture that is Manhattan. There is some Jewish angst that needs to be assuaged, naturally in a most comfortable horizontal setting. The French woman who is recommending that the Jewish wannabe writer “lighten up” a bit on the practical mechanics of an affair (“of course my husband knows, he is having his own affair…”) is nine years older, at 33, than he, who is 24. Stir in some cameo appearances, for example, the perennial pillar of the Atlanta political world of my youth, Julian Bond, who died the same year this movie was released… and there is at least enough to make you wonder: What next? You would not want to forget the ultimate pinnacle of success – getting published in “The New Yorker,” nor even a reference to that famous cover that boldly proclaims that Manhattan is the only thing that matters!
The film’s director is Victor Levin. The French couple's last name is Pierpont! Bérénice Marlohe, and she is easy on the eyes, plays Arielle, and Lambert Wilson plays Valéry. The aspiring Jewish writer is Brian Bloom, another last name out of central casting, and is played by Anton Yelchin. Jane Hastings is played by Olivia Thirlby. She is also 24, and a big mucky-muck editor at a large publishing house. Keeping it “all in the family,” she is the mistress of Valéry.
Lawdy though, there was a terrible sense of unreality that hung over the entire movie. Both Arielle and Brian are smokers (which always conveys “dumb and undesirable” to me). That is how they meet. She is standing outside one of the big name lux Manhattan hotels smoking, like she was in exile (and that is what they call themselves), but SURELY she could have smoked in her suite (which she had!) if she wanted to. Mainly though, I felt the movie demonstrated no reasons why she should have been attracted to him… even just flat out carnal ones. And save for one cameo scene, the love making was rather tepid. No crazy “let’s go out on the balcony and smell the magnolia tree…”.
There were two brief clips for the “au courant” from Francois Truffaut’s “Jules et Jim,” with the explanation that that is why the French seem to be strange people! Wow! The second brief clip was the scene of her driving over the bridge, which foreshadowed nothing.
A few “je t’aime” spice things up, as well as an explanation why a particular French word has morphed from the textbook definition of “to kiss” to mean more like the logical fulfillment of that kiss. Brian’s parents brag that his French is almost perfect, though he has never left the country.
Oh well, it ended on a high note, with the wonderful axiom for lovers: “Your favorite story is written for only one reader…” For the movie, overall, 3-stars.